Your Opinion: Setting up an F-150

DFD1994

Member
I have a 2016 F-150 SuperCrew that I am looking to setup with a Amber/White setup for roadside assistance and that leads me to ask a few questions from the wealth of knowledge and wide variety of experiences that reside here in the forums. While I want to do the project right there are several questions I would like to get other members' opinion on:
  1. What brands are the best bang for buck when it comes to LEDs and Controllers?
  2. What layouts and angles (eg. 40 vs 180) are most effective for stationary warning?
  3. Do I need to look for an upfitter/installer or should I DIY the install?
  4. Is there anything to avoid in the upfitting process, especially specific to the f-150?
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
I have a similar vehicle (2015) and I'm working through a similar type of outfitting. There are a lot of options out there, but I'll give you my two cents. Best bang for the buck really depends on what you need because the most inexpensive light does not necessarily have all the features you want.

1. Strobes N' More X8 dual color lighthead (A/W) is the best bang for the buck right now imho.
Feniex Fusion dual color is another excellent choice; SoundOff mPower Fascia and Whelen Ions also good choices but a little more expensive and some other features. SoundOff mPower is the thinnest of them all if you want to mount under tailgate, for example.

For switches: Many people like the Feniex 4200 mini controller or its big brother the 4200-DL. Can also use Whelen PCC8R 8-switch panel. There are many options and prices out there. It depends on functionality needed, electrical load capacity per switch/per panel, cost and mounting constraints. Can also use individual switches and if you want them custom laser etched try RockerSwitchPros.com.

2. iIt seems like you are already in the Feniex camp. Either 40 or 180 degree works well, but the 40 has a noticeably brighter light output within its 40 degree range. It just depends on mounting location and intended use. Since you are using A/W, I'm assuming no emergency/traffic clearing duties. If mounting inside of cab, I prefer the 40 degree lightheads. Very bright and the punch will get through factory tinting well, but 180s work fine also just not as bright. If mounting on rocker (under side doors and above step rail) or in the front for side warning, generally go with the 180s with one to two 40s for further alley/takedown/scene lighting visibility. For front lights, best to do a combination for both warning and flood mode/scene lighting, especially on dark rainy nights where the roadway absorbs a lot of light.

3. If you are asking, then I would say go with an upfitter. You will spend a lot of money on just the supporting equipment (in addition to the lights themselves).

4. Avoid using non-aluminum fasteners in the all aluminum body (galvanic corrosion concern) Check Ford Tech Support/Upfitter bulletins for auxiliary electrical equipment wiring. Be careful of airbag deployment zones. The SuperCrew has side impact airbags tucked unto the body pillars from front to rear (A and C pillars, not sure about B pillars) so be mindful when wiring any internal side or rear lighting. If you are replacing incandescent bulbs with aftermarket LEDs need to be careful about how truck electrical system responds. Reduced resistance of LEDs can cause different current draw which could limit effectiveness of Body Control Module (BCM).
 
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DFD1994

DFD1994

Member
@CustomAJ Thanks for the response, I appreciate the insight. I am definitely edging towards the Fenix camp at the moment unless someone has a horror story that deters me. I have done basic install before and I really just want to get some opinions on if the appropriate setup would be overly difficult. I have not done an F-150 before and just wanted to see if there were pitfalls that would make DIY not cost/time efficient.
 
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DFD1994

DFD1994

Member
@DFD1994 Can you provide a little more description of what you intend for your setup?
Sure, it's a little open ended because I was hoping to get some opinions on what setups would be most effective and such but I had grabbed some generic photos of an F150 and this was roughly what I had pictured mentally:
Flynn Lighting Layout.jpg
This is what I have landed on as of right now but I'm not sure if I want to add an additional two on the grille that are white for worklight and if I should include takedowns on the rocker panel bars as side worklight. I also wanted to see if anyone thought I needed more side visibility since I don't currently have anything planned higher up on the sides.
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
FYI that backend is not a 2016. The 2015+ bumper license plate area slopes down and in, it does not slope straight down. The tire carrier hoist port is on the right next to license plate and trailer connector is on the left. I don’t think there is room for fusions on either side of rear plate area without blocking those access points.

Rear window is what I was thinking too but I have middle sliding window so i’ll be modifying things. If you have sliding rear window too, you need to mount rear bar far enough away from rear window to allow slider to retract. Regardless, the challenge with rear bar is mounting. Ideally headliner needs to drop so you can acces reinforcement metal inside of roof, that’s what you would attach to. Again it is aluminum so you should use either aluminum screws (not easy to find) or isolate contact between steel screw and aluminum body, ie, use Teflon washers). Also power cord going to have to drop down C pillar (where rear seat belt retraction mechanism is). There are both side curtain airbags there and the roof channel drain hose which runs thru there to the ground. (See pic). So be careful there is no interference with safety and functional oem equipment when routing cables. 78BBF463-D341-44E7-9412-BB37F49E81C7.jpeg
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
Also with grill lights, you need to make sure you have clearance. The XLTs (usually?) come with active louvers behind grill to streamline airflow around truck if conditions allow. The depth from behind grill to front of open louver is shallow. Mounting fusions behind grill (less visible when off) is a challenge. It can be done but just measure and do a mock-up first to include routing path of cables relative to existing holes in support brackets and interference with louvers operating.
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
For front floods/scene lighting you could use dual color fusions (A/W) for the existing four lights you showed in the grill. You can use the steady white override function for scene lighting. If your using dual color fusion interior light bar you can do the same with that or configure ILB to have two takedowns (see pic attached) 20AFAC91-7D9A-4518-BE4B-748E25E46025.pngand you can keep the other 6 lightheads on warning while using two take downs and four grill lights in steady white mode to provide plenty of front lighting.
 

pdk9

Veteran Member
I have a 2016 F-150 SuperCrew that I am looking to setup with a Amber/White setup for roadside assistance and that leads me to ask a few questions from the wealth of knowledge and wide variety of experiences that reside here in the forums. While I want to do the project right there are several questions I would like to get other members' opinion on:
  1. What brands are the best bang for buck when it comes to LEDs and Controllers?
  2. What layouts and angles (eg. 40 vs 180) are most effective for stationary warning?
  3. Do I need to look for an upfitter/installer or should I DIY the install?
  4. Is there anything to avoid in the upfitting process, especially specific to the f-150?
I’m personally a Whelen guy, but I think that the 2 best bang for your buck are Feniex & Sound off.

For a controller, the Feniex 4200 mini is one of the best all around and is only $100 bucks. Lots of programming options, rugged, & can mount anywhere.

Generally, for exterior surface mount lights, I recommend linear/180 degree optics because you get a better spread at all angles, while the TIR/40 degree optics don’t have that “punch” unless you’re looking head-on at them. However, if going through tint (ie rear headliner), the TIR/40 degree optic is typically what I recommend since the alternative 180 optics don’t “punch” through as well.

For dual function/dual color lights, I would have to go with the SOS Mpower (which I think is a bit brighter) over the Fusion. One of the biggest pros of the Mpower is how freakin thin it is (half as thick as the fusion, which looks a little bulky when surface mounted, IMHO), so you can literally mount them anywhere. ie instead of having lights mounted on a rear LP bracket, you can horizontally mount 2-4 Mpower beneath the tailgate. They’re also a bit more rugged (silicone lense), and I think that being thinner/more low profile means they’re less likely to be banged into.

I think that minimal front & side warning is sufficient, since road side assistance & construction vehicles mostly just rely on their rear warning (very rarely do they park perpendicular to traffic or head-on into oncoming traffic)....full frontal interior lightbar & full rocker panel bar seem a bit much & unnecessary IMO.

FRONT: don’t go with anymore grill lighting....I think that more than 4 ligtheads in a Grill (even if it’s a mix of warning & flood lighting) looks tacky. Mount 2-4 dual color Mpower/fusion in the upper grill (flash amber and have clear for steadyburn). Instead of spacing them out in the grill as your diagram has them, I’d mount them in a straight line so that it looks like you have 2 large grill lights instead of 4 smaller one (it makes for a more powerful overall footprint from a distance). Maybe throw something on the dash too, & call it a day

SIDE:
I’m not a huge fan of rocker panel lighting as your primary side warning since it’s so down low & they’re so expensive. Personally, I prefer mid level lighting like SOS intersectors mounted under the side mirrors & maybe something mounted on the side of a tool box in the bed (IF you have a tool box) and call it a day

REAR: this is your bread and butter right here (as a roadside assistance vehicle), so this is where you should focus. Do not flash clear to the rear (limit it to amber cuz clear is blinding at night). An 8-head lightstick in all amber on the upper headliner and some lower level warning beneath the tailgate is usually sufficient (if you can, horizontally mount the lower warning, because the spread on any lightheaded is usually better that way than vertically mounted). Another option is getting dual color amber/clear cannons to replace the reverse light bulb (flash amber, steady burn clear for reverse). If on a limited budget, LAWs like cannons are usually the first item that I ax b/c I think that surface mounts give you more bang for your buck than LAWs
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
pdk9 I would be interested to hear what Whelen products you would suggest for the same setup as DFD2994. I like Whelen also. Big fan of their 500Vs and Ions. I'm thinking of the 500Vs mounted on side view mirror end caps for front and side warning, flood light mode and puddle lighting. They are big lights so not sure enough room behind the side view mirror end cap to run all the wires, but functionally that location works well.
 
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DFD1994

DFD1994

Member
@CustomAJ All excellent point/ideas. I think the back window is my biggest issue for sure. I do also have a power-slide rear-window so I had toyed with the idea of finding a way to mount the bar at the bottom of the rear window instead which I think would give me a better chance of spacing it correctly than if I had to be beholden to the headliner. You are correct on the rear, I couldn't find the correct year in that straight-on rear picture but then I totally forgot about the connections that are there on my '16. The active dampers are a big issue as well, I am looking at a couple of different solutions but I will figure out

@pdk9 Thank for all your insight, I think that you are right about the rocker panels being not so great in the bang for buck category. I will have to revisit that. I am in the same camp as CustomAJ in the sense that I like the Whelen product lineup but realistically I just need to decide if I can justify the cost difference. I want to take a better look at Sound Off today since besides seeing them mentioned on here I have not come in contact with their products in person (not sure if that is a regional thing or what) but am definitely interested with a more durable, silicone lens option.
 

pdk9

Veteran Member
pdk9 I would be interested to hear what Whelen products you would suggest for the same setup as DFD2994. I like Whelen also. Big fan of their 500Vs and Ions. I'm thinking of the 500Vs mounted on side view mirror end caps for front and side warning, flood light mode and puddle lighting. They are big lights so not sure enough room behind the side view mirror end cap to run all the wires, but functionally that location works well.
I would use ion duo universal mounts in the grill because you can basically “clip” them onto the grill slats instead of having to fabricate something behind the grill to surface mount them against. For amber/clear, flash amber and use clear for override steadyburn only.

Dual avenger on the dash. I think solo amber is sufficient but there’s the option to do duo amber clear for a little extra lighting. Just remember that the duo ions & avengers are NOT true scene/flood lights...they put some good lighting to help illuminate an area at night (when set to clear steadyburn), but they’re not gonna outshine something like a rigid flood light stick. There is the option to go with the ion v series instead for the grill, but I personally can’t justify spending almost double for the V series

As for the mirrors, the V23 is slightly smaller than the 500 v series, but I wouldn’t use them for scene lighting on the mirrors because the mirrors don’t point straight forward, so surface mounting any scene lighting to the back of the mirrors would direct the lighting at an angle (not necessarily 45 degrees, but definitely not straight ahead as would be ideal). If I wanted puddle lighting, id honestly get some dedicated puddle lights and mount them down by the running boards, to be honest
 

pdk9

Veteran Member
@pdk9 Thank for all your insight, I think that you are right about the rocker panels being not so great in the bang for buck category. I will have to revisit that. I am in the same camp as CustomAJ in the sense that I like the Whelen product lineup but realistically I just need to decide if I can justify the cost difference. I want to take a better look at Sound Off today since besides seeing them mentioned on here I have not come in contact with their products in person (not sure if that is a regional thing or what) but am definitely interested with a more durable, silicone lens option.
Sound off signal (SOS) is a great company but they have a terrible marketing/PR approach & they need to step it up like Feniex (neither is a huge company but SOS has been around for longer, yet a lot of ppl haven’t heard of them as they have with Feniex). They were the original pioneer with products the under-the-mirror intersectors & the ghost, but everyone and their brother copied SOS designs (ie whelen ion)

SOS does make some OEM kits for Ford (look up Ford’s overpriced 4 strobe kit for the F-150). It has a nice bracket for CHMSL but you have to buy the overpriced kit, hence why I didn’t recommend it.

To be honest, I would say that the best bang for your buck would be getting an Acari Mount and perm mounting a Whelen responder LP minibar (or similar) to it, and calling it a day for the amber warning. Minibars give the best 360 coverage when on a budget IMO, and the Acari Mount is a no-drill option for a mounting platform to perm mount the minibar. Cannons in the reverse light housing and/or some surface mount lighting on the rear LP or below the liftgate can be added for supplemental warning over time.

Then, for scene lighting, get a fog light replacement kit, where you can put some rigid-type cube lights in the fog area.

I would keep it simple with something like the flood fog lights + a minibar, and invest in a good portable lighting option, like a streamlight box light (since all the flood lighting in the world to the front and sides of your truck won’t get you perfect illumination 24/7 on every call). A portable scene or box light will get you coverage on all angles/sides of the vehicle you’re working on without having to reposition your truck (which should always be to the rear to protect you from oncoming traffic)
 
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DFD1994

DFD1994

Member
@pdk9 Certainly the easiest is a mini-bar and I have toyed with getting an Acari mount for a top mount searchlight/flood. My only hesitation has been the desire to stay low-profile with this being my personal vehicle as well. I think the happy median somewhere in the middle is where I will land. I liked the liked the OEM kit but I agree that it is insanely overpriced for what it is. I will post back here and let y'all know what I land on.
 

CustomAJ

Registered Member
DFD1994 If you want a custom option for the rear, I'm working on lights mounted to aluminum flat bar which are mounted to the rear headrest poles. There are some things to consider, but it gets you rear facing lights not readily visible from the outside and which are mounted without drilling into the truck. Wiring drops down behind the seat for electrical connections to remote switch box. If you're interested, I can give you details. CustomAJm@yahoo.com.
 
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DFD1994

DFD1994

Member
It just struck me to mention this here as it is an applicable tool for the topic. If you haven't already checked out the Lemur Light I have been looking at them as a solution to portable lighting on the roadside that also help set a scene perimeter. Think floodlight and LED flare in one package. The price is a little steep but the company is a small one and I don't mind supporting them.

You can check it out here.
 

Jarred J.

Archive Expert
Silver Supporter
i could build one for less than that, neat concept though i guess...
 

pdk9

Veteran Member
It just struck me to mention this here as it is an applicable tool for the topic. If you haven't already checked out the Lemur Light I have been looking at them as a solution to portable lighting on the roadside that also help set a scene perimeter. Think floodlight and LED flare in one package. The price is a little steep but the company is a small one and I don't mind supporting them.

You can check it out here.
Like I said above, I think you should go with an LED box light from streamlight....good products and great customer service/warranty dept. I don’t think you need the little led warning light since the only time you’ll deploy the portable light is off the to the side (where the little led won’t flash into oncoming traffic) + your vehicle will be your source for warning lights & scene lighting to the rear of your work area. If u position that box light setup to a side where the LED is visible to incoming traffic, it’ll prob be run over IMO
 

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